Review- Dressed by The Night by Silvia Perez Cruz- Hong Kong Arts Festival


By Peter Gordon





The title song of singer-songwriter Sílvia Pérez Cruz’s recent concert at Hong Kong Arts Festival begins "Pinto les notes d’una havanerablava com l’aigua d’un mar antic,Blanca d’escuma, dolça com l’aire,gris de gavines, daurada d’imatges vestida de nit: I paint the notes of a habanera, blue as the water of the antique sea, white from the foam, as sweet as the air, with the grey of gulls, gilded with pictures, dressed by the night".


“Vestida de Nit” was written by her father and mother 35 years ago and has become a touchstone of Pérez Cruz’s concerts: it is like a sibling, she told the audience for her debut appearance in China, something she has grown up with and alongside.


This first stanza contains most of what you need to know about the singer: the importance of family, the influence of musical traditions from throughout the Iberian peninsula and, indeed, the broader Ibero-American world, its many languages, the need to tell a story through song,a painter’s way of looking at the world, forces that unite and divide, a past that illuminates the present.


Hailing from Catalonia, Pérez Cruz sings in at least three of the languages of the Iberian peninsula. Her concert on 22 March was a voyage around the wider Iberian world, with songs in Spanish and Portuguese from Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela, with musical influences from flamenco, fado, folk, jazz and much else besides. Two songs, including one she wrote for a film, were in English.Pérez Cruz was—in this, apparently their last concert together—accompanied by an extremely talented string quartet, who could, within a single song, meld genres from classical to modernist, from folk to jazz.


She herself sings in an expressive and rich soprano and is an extremely generous performer. Clearly thrilled to be in Hong Kong, managing a few phrases in Cantonese (“so much concentration”, she said, “I have forgotten the songs”), she was full of praise for the Arts Festival and made a point of giving effusive thanks to the technical staff at the Concert Hall. 


This production has now closed. 


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